Compiled by the Road Trip Manitoba team
Last updated on January 22, 2024
The cold weather doesn’t scare us Manitobans from having a great time in winter! Winnipeg in winter is filled with things to do, from skating to festivals to ice fishing. And while we may need to bundle up a bit more in the winter weather, the city is just as jam-packed with fun activities as it is in the summer.
In fact, some might argue there’s even more to do in winter in Winnipeg than in any other season! We certainly do love our snow and our ice. Keep reading for some of the best things to do in Winnipeg in winter.
Things to Do in Winnipeg in Winter
Visit the Assiniboine Park Zoo
If you’ve never been to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, you’re missing out on one of the best and most comprehensive Arctic exhibits in the world. As Churchill, Manitoba, is the undisputed “polar bear capital of the world,” the Assiniboine Park Zoo has an impressive Churchill exhibit that features polar bears, seals, Arctic foxes, and more. Open in winter, the zoo maintains its pathways and walking trails, and you can also spot elk, cougars, wolves, bison, mountain goats, and many more winter animals.
Head Out on the Walking Trails
There are so many excellent walking trails in Winnipeg, and that doesn’t change in winter. There’s nothing like heading out for a long walk on a crisp, snowy day to get the blood pumping and take in some beautiful scenery! Whether you choose a walk through nature or one through a residential area, it’s one of our favourite winter activities in Winnipeg.
Some of our favourite trails include those in Assiniboine Forest, Beaudry Provincial Park, the Assiniboine Park/Wolseley/Wellington Crescent Loop, the Whittier River Trail, the Sturgeon Creek Trail, and the Kings Park Loop. There’s also the Nestaweya River Trail, which is for walking as well as skating!
Spend Some Time at a Museum
Let’s face it: sometimes the Winnipeg weather is a bit too chilly to spend too much time outdoors. So why not warm up while exploring one of Winnipeg’s best museums? There are multiple museums to explore when the temperature drops, from the Manitoba Children’s Museum to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. Our favourite is the Manitoba Museum, which includes the Planetarium and the Science Gallery.
Enjoy the Christmas Festivities
When you’re living in a literal snow globe, trust us, we know how to do Christmas. Whether it’s a fantastic display of lights, an event, or a chance to meet Santa, there are tons of opportunities to celebrate Christmas in Winnipeg. Some of our top experiences include the lights at the Canad Inns Winter Wonderland (Manitoba’s longest drive-through light display), Zoo Lights at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, and the Santa Claus Parade along Portage Avenue.
Warm up at The Leaf
Assiniboine Park’s new horticultural attraction, The Leaf makes for an incredible place to visit during a Winnipeg winter. Escape the cold and pretend you’re in the tropics as you wander through the beautiful biomes of The Leaf, including a Mediterranean biome, tropical biome, and even a butterfly garden. If you have time, stop in at Gather Restaurant for “globally inspired modern prairie cuisine” to enjoy Manitoban ingredients (reservations are recommended).
Winnipeg is ideal for winter activities, including time on the ice. Skating is a massive part of the city’s culture, and you’ll find many skating rinks in Winnipeg to enjoy. One of our favourite spots to skate is the Nestaweya River Trail; following the Red River and the Assiniboine River, this is one of the longest natural skating trails in the world and has many fantastic warming huts along the way.
There are many other amazing spots to go ice skating in Winnipeg, including the St. Vital Park Duck Pond, Bunn’s Creek Centennial Park, and FortWhyte Alive, to name a few.
Go Cross-Country Skiing
One of our favourite winter activities in Winnipeg is cross-country skiing. There are tons of areas with great skiing trails – pretty much any major park has the opportunity – but some of our favourite spots to cross-country ski include FortWhyte Alive, Birds Hill Provincial Park, Beaudry Provincial Park, and the Windsor Park Nordic Centre, which has over eight kilometres of ski trails to enjoy (and it’s even lit up until 10 p.m. for night skiing!). You can also ski down the frozen trails of the Assiniboine, Red, and La Salle rivers.
Don’t have your own skis? Rent cross-country skis from Woodcock Cycle Works (433 St Mary’s Road).
Visit FortWhyte Alive
We’ve mentioned FortWhyte Alive a lot on this list already, and for a good reason: it’s an amazing place to take advantage of Winnipeg in winter! With tons of winter activities to try, including opportunities for skating, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, there’s also terrific wildlife spotting throughout the site, including birds, deer, and even a bison herd. It’s the perfect way to spend a winter day in Winnipeg.
Enjoy the Arctic Glacier Winter Park
The Arctic Glacier Winter Park is an attraction at The Forks in downtown Winnipeg. Every winter, you can walk or skate your way through all that it has to offer, including skating trails, a skating rink, a toboggan run, holiday lights, and so much more. Don’t forget to warm up inside the Forks market with some hot chocolate, too!
Attend Festival du Voyageur
The largest winter festival in Western Canada, Festival du Voyageur is one of our favourite things to do in Manitoba. With an emphasis on Francophone and Indigenous cultures in Manitoba, the festival is known for its celebration of music, dance, ice carving, snow sculptures, and so much more, including the traditions of the voyageurs from the 19th century. Held every February over ten days, it’s estimated that over 100,000 people visit yearly.
See a Hockey Game
Make your way to the impressive Canada Life Centre to cheer on the Winnipeg Jets or the Manitoba Moose! There’s nothing like catching a hockey game in Winnipeg; it’s always an exciting feeling, no matter who they play. The Winnipeg Jets are part of the NHL, while the Manitoba Moose are a member of the AHL, but it’s always a great time at the Canada Life Centre.
Spend the Day at Thermea
One of the best ways to spend a day during a Winnipeg winter? Head to Thermea Nordik Spa-Nature, Winnipeg’s premier Nordic spa! Even though you’ll spend time outside at the spa, don’t worry, the saunas and hot tubs keep you nice and warm. Make your way through a hot and cool thermal cycle that includes wet and dry saunas, warm pools and hot tubs, relaxation spaces, and even an ice plunge.
You can also book a private massage or dine in their excellent onsite restaurant. Thermea is one of our favourite things to do in Winnipeg in winter; we may enjoy it even more in the colder months than in summer!
Cozy up in a Great Restaurant
What is it about winter that makes us crave a cozy restaurant? Thankfully, Winnipeg is home to some of the best restaurants in Canada. As many local restaurants change their menus to reflect the winter season, you can expect hearty meals and comfort food to keep you warm. While there are many fantastic Winnipeg restaurants, our favourites for a particularly cozy vibe include Harth Mozza Wine Bar, Enoteca, SMITH Restaurant, Deer + Almond, Nonsuch Brewing Co., and Bar Accanto.
Have Fun Tobogganing
There are plenty of toboggan slides around Winnipeg and many small hills and slopes to enjoy with a sled. FortWhite Alive has a good toboggan run and even provides toboggans for your use, while Crescent Drive Park, St. Vital Park, Kildonan Park, Fraser’s Grove Park, and Westview Park (“Garbage Hill”) all have good toboggan slides or runs. There are also opportunities to toboggan at the Forks.
Experience Ice Fishing
There’s incredible fishing in Manitoba, and that includes ice fishing. With tons of places to ice fish in the city or just outside it, it’s a great way to spend some time outdoors with your fishing gear and a few friends. Some of our top spots for ice fishing include the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, while a short drive will take you to Lake Winnipeg where there are tons of opportunities for fishing on the frozen lake. Remember that you’ll need a fishing licence, even in winter!
Dine on the ice at RAW:almond
A once-in-a-lifetime meal, experience the magic that is RAW:almond every Winnipeg winter. While tickets are expensive, they’re worth it; it’s not every day you have an incredible seven-course meal while sitting on a frozen river. Hosting famous chefs from all over the world, tickets to RAW:almond sell out every year and sell out quickly!
Curling is massively popular in Winnipeg, and it’s a fun sport to get into if you’ve never tried it! Thankfully, there are lots of minor leagues around the city, and curling clubs like the Granite Curling Club are open for people of all levels; it’s also the oldest curling club in Winnipeg. Also check out the Fort Garry Curling Club, the St. Vital Curling Club, and the Fort Rouge Curling Club, among others (you can find other clubs, as well as more information about curling in Winnipeg, at Curl Manitoba).
Speaking of curling, have you ever heard of Crokicurl? Crokicurl is played on an outdoor rink and combines curling with the iconic board game of Crokinole (here’s how to play). First introduced at the Forks in 2017, the game has since spread in popularity across Winnipeg and the rest of Canada. It’s an incredibly fun and unique way to celebrate the winter months in Winnipeg!
Attend the Winnipeg New Music Festival
Usually held in the early months of the year (in 2024, the dates are January 25th to February 2nd), the Winnipeg New Music Festival is a fantastic way to take in a bit of culture in the city. Put on by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, this festival is the largest of its kind to celebrate contemporary art music. Expect multimedia events held at the Centennial Concert Hall as well as in unique locations (including the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada).
Wander Around the Forks Market
We’re huge fans of the Forks here at Road Trip Manitoba. It’s rare to see an article on this site about Winnipeg where we don’t mention the Forks! Enjoy some tasty food, try a flight of local beer at the Common, catch one of the many holiday markets, do some shopping, or indulge in all the outdoor fun at the Forks every winter (including the aforementioned skating trail and Arctic Glacier Winter Park). If you’re ever at a loss for what to do in Winnipeg in winter, heading to the Forks is a great start.
Snowshoeing in Winnipeg is an easy, fun way to see the city in winter. Some of our favourite spots to go snowshoeing in or around Winnipeg are Fort Whyte Alive, Oak Hammock Marsh, and Bois-des-Esprit, one of Canada’s biggest urban forests. There are a few places to rent snowshoes in Winnipeg, including Kendrick’s Outdoor Adventures (1 Forks Market Road) and Wilderness Supply (50 Isabel Street).
Get Adventurous on the Ice Climbing Tower
While there aren’t many opportunities for outdoor climbing in Winnipeg, every winter brings a new chance to try the exhilarating Ice Climbing Tower in St. Boniface. Head to Club de Escalade de St. Boniface (141 Messager Street) to try to tackle the 20-metre tower for yourself!
See the Royal Winnipeg Ballet
One of the best ballet companies in the world – and North America’s longest-continuously operating ballet company – the Royal Winnipeg Ballet always offers incredible shows throughout the winter. Seeing The Nutcracker on stage is a must at least once, while 2024 will also showcase Romeo and Juliet.
Go Downhill Skiing
Yes, you read that correctly: we have downhill skiing in Manitoba! While our best ski resort is arguably the Asessippi Ski Resort in Western Manitoba, there are a few opportunities for downhill skiing near Winnipeg. Check out the Springhill Winter Sports Park in Springfield (only a few minutes northeast of Winnipeg) for skiing, snowboarding, and a tube park. Stony Mountain also has downhill skiing and snowboarding and is about a ten-minute drive north of Winnipeg’s perimeter.
Visit the World’s Largest Snow Maze
OK, so the world’s largest snow maze, the A Maze In a Corn Snow Maze, is technically not in Winnipeg, but it’s only a short drive from the city’s perimeter! Head to St. Adolphe for this magical spot, where you’ll take in the snow carvings, sculptures, and buildings, toboggan down Snow Mountain, indulge in a few warm drinks, get cozy by a bonfire, and, of course, be challenged to complete the snow maze. It’s one of our favourite things to do in Winnipeg in winter!
Try Ice Cycling
Here in Winnipeg, we have to get innovative in winter, especially when it comes to fun winter activities to keep us busy through the cold months. Enter: ice cycling! If you love cycling and love being on the ice, this is the pastime for you. These unique “bicycles” are perfect for gliding on the frozen rivers and other icy spots in town; rent one from Spark Rentals Inc. (20 Lyndale Drive). You can also rent fat tire bikes from various spots around the city, which is another great option for cycling on the ice.
Brenna Holeman (she/her) has adventured to over 100 countries but is incredibly proud to call Winnipeg home. Brenna spent 16 years travelling solo around the world, living in Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Osaka, Antigua, and London, England. Once a writer and editor for Expedia UK, she is a co-founder of Road Trip Manitoba and also runs This Battered Suitcase, one of the most trusted and respected travel blogs in the world.